Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nominees, Part 2



  1. This is Jules Feiffer's year. I still regret that he and Norton Juster weren't nominated as a team back in 2011, but he is a very strong stand-alone candidate, as well. Aside from the Phantom Tollbooth, which is perfect, he's also the author of The Man in the Ceiling, one of the books that has influenced me most in my life. If you haven't read it, do. Just as Harriet the Spy gives kids an unflinching look at what it means to be an intellectual, The Man in the Ceiling shows them what it means to be a creative person. It deals with creative integrity and failure in ways that have stuck with me since I first read it in 4th grade. Jules Feiffer gets it.

  2. Feiffer's work in the Voice would be enough for me. See, e.g.

    Michael Feinstein seems like he could have been an inaugural inductee.

    A word on Robert Christgau: I've probably read more of his writing than anyone who isn't related to him-- even the straight-up reportage he did when he was briefly at the Newark Star-Ledger. His music criticism formed or concurred with my taste at the Voice, Newsday and beyond. He perfected a form that is now ubiquitous. The music that we've listened to at home, in the car, and anywhere else where I can control the playlist has all been informed by his writing. I realize that he seems like a bit of a dark horse, but when you consider how pervasive music is at Big Pink you have to also acknowledge the Dean.

    1. One of my favorite memories is begging you and Mum to put "They All Laughed" on the record player so CLA and I could dance to it.

      Also, "I'd tell 'em - BAH!"

    2. I just dipped into a Day piece at your link. Man, that's some great stuff, and I must concede that much of my parenting style derived from the senior Clarence Day.

    3. Yeah, you could spend a whole day there.

    4. It occurs to me that one way to think about this project is that these individuals give us the language and the models for how we think about ourselves.

      We see our family reflected in The Royal Tennenbaums, you see yourself in Clarence Day's father, I see myself in Jimmy from The Man in the Ceiling. These are the stories we use to explain ourselves to ourselves and each other.

      I'll never forget, for example, Caroline comparing me to Chaz from The Royal Tennenbaums: "You're angry when you're sad." That insight has helped me understand myself ever since.

  3. I identify with all of Feiffer's dancer comics right now, and I agree with Emily re: The Man in the Ceiling. Working through failure is a lesson that isn't often found in children's books. My only question is, where did you originally find the book? I want to give it as a Christmas present but there isn't a bookstore in Northampton that carries it, and Talking Leaves doesn't have it either; what an egregious oversight on everyone's part.

    Michael Feinstein hasn't been inducted yet? That's unbelievable! "Pure Gershwin" was the record that made me fall in love with jazz and vinyl (in that order), and his version of "Someone to Watch Over Me" is the standard to which I hold all other interpretations. Meeting him was one of the high points of my life.

    I wish we had thought to nominate Francis and Zelda as a couple, if for no other reason than this photo:

  4. Oh man, the kid is on the end. That's it, we have to reshoot my wedding. And also the Easter when I was two.

    As I recall, The Man in the Ceiling was in my 4th grade classroom library. It stuck with me, and in college I bought a copy on Amazon. It deserves to be much more widely read than it is; that ending! It's so thuddingly right every time.